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Image credit: Moonshot

Why Patagonia Provisions bought Moonshot: ‘It’s the best impact story of a food business I’ve ever come across’

March 9, 2023

  • Patagonia Provisions, the food and bev arm of outdoor outfitter Patagonia, has acquired snack brand Moonshot for an undisclosed sum.
  • This is Patagonia’s first acquisition in more than 20 years.
  • Moonshot makes crackers using regenerative agriculture practices and shorter supply chains with the goal of giving its products a lower carbon footprint.

Chance encounters

The deal came about rather by chance, Patagonia Provisions’ general manager Paul Lightfoot tells AFN. His company discovered Moonshot while working with the latter’s parent company,  PlanetFWD, which makes a software tool brands can use to calculate their carbon footprints and improve the environmental impact of their products.

“We did not set out with an acquisition strategy,” he says, adding that Patagonia Provisions is not currently pursuing one.

“When they [PlanetFWD] showed us what they did for food businesses with regenerative supply chains, they had a showcase company, which was Moonshot.”

The Patagonia Provisions team immediately “fell in love” with Moonshot’s supplier ecosystem, which is built around the concept of shorter supply chains (and therefore lower emissions from transportation) and more traceable ingredients. Moonshot says its wheat is grown on regenerative organic farms just two miles away from the mill where it becomes flour. That mill is about 85 miles from the bakery that turns the flour into Moonshot’s crackers.

The startup also uses growing practices such as no-till, cover cropping and crop rotation, which can improve soil health.

Lightfoot says the other major factor drawing Patagonia Provisions to the company was “the amazing group of women that have built this business,” including PlanetFWD founder Julia Collins.

“I founded Moonshot with the vision of using the power of food to help tackle climate change,” Collins said in a recent statement. “By joining Patagonia Provisions, who recently made Earth their only shareholder, Moonshot now belongs to the planet. I cannot imagine a more spectacular path forward for our mission, our team and our Climatarian community.”

‘Committed to producing food responsibly’

Anyone who’s tried products from Patagonia Provisions and Moonshot knows these foods sell for what’s typically a higher price point than the average American snack. Lightfoot says he thinks about this question of accessibility constantly.

“Access to food that’s good to your health and good to the planet is a fundamental basic right,” he says. “That said, we’re not apologetic about doing things in a way that often costs more because it’s the right thing to do.”

Like Moonshot, Patagonia provisions in organic, regeneratively grown/raised foods that are often more expensive to produce.

At the same time, Lightfoot says the standard American diet is produced in a way “that doesn’t capture the actual cost to society,” including the cost to human health and to the environment.

For now, Patagonia Provisions will “continue to produce foods responsibly” by providing greater long-term value via nutrition and environmentally friendly practices.

Mackerel, for example, is typically caught by trawling, which can impair sea environments and damage ecosystems.

Patagonia Provisions uses a technique involving bait-less hooks that “is more costly but could go on for a thousand years without damaging the ecosystem,” says Lightfoot.

“We don’t have a choice but to pass on the higher cost, but we think it’s worth it when so much of the seafood around the world is really destructive.”

Driving demand for regen ag

He’s hopeful, however, that the issue of accessibility will change over time. Companies like Moonshot, he says, are an important part of the process.

“Flat-screen TVs, electric vehicles, anything done in an innovative way is going to cost more in the beginning,” he says. “As it scales, the costs come down.”

Moonshot currently sells its crackers at retailers in the US like Whole FoodsThe Fresh Market, and Bristol Farms. Becoming part of Patagonia Provisions could, of course, widen the company’s geographical reach considerably.

“Moonshot is pretty small scale right now,” says Lightfoot. “My hope is that these [kinds of] companies create such demand for regenerative that there’s a really big market and it will bring costs down.”

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